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Your Morning Matters: Immersed in van Gogh

City Council on Wednesday gave approval for the Youngstown Police Department to move forward with plans for officers to have body cameras.

Good morning and welcome to your Morning Matters — with reporter Jess Hardin.

It's Thursday, July 29, 2021, and, although painter Vincent van Gogh died on this day 131 years ago, he’ll be very much alive in Cleveland this fall.

“Immersive Van Gogh,” a digital exhibit created by Massimiliano Siccardi, opens Sept. 9 at an “historic venue in the heart of Cleveland,” according to the exhibit’s website. In 500,000 cubic feet of projections, the exhibit animates van Gogh’s oeuvre to music composed by Luca Longobardi. Tickets can be purchased here and cost between $40 and $50, depending on when you go. 

While van Gogh’s digital show has gotten rave reviews — ”Fantasia for adults!” ”The future of experiential art!” — the Dutch post-impressionist painter was a stranger to fame when he died impoverished and largely unknown at age 37 on July 29, 1890.

For most of the 131 years since his death, he was widely believed to have died by suicide. But in their 2011 biography, “Van Gogh: The Life,” Pulitzer Prize winners Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith challenge the theory that’s become integral to the public’s understanding of the troubled artist. After extensively reviewing forensic reports, van Gogh’s letters and the writings of his peers after his death, the pair suggest the painter’s death is, instead, a murder mystery.  

But it turns out their evidence against the accepted theory was not well-received! In a Vanity Fair article about their biography, the duo wrote that one fan responded, “This isn’t the Vincent van Gogh I know from Starry, Starry Night” — which I find completely hilarious. 

If you want to learn more about van Gogh’s story — which, apparently, is still being written — or spend some time with his work, check out the exhibit or the book. 

Let’s make today count!

Here's what you need to know about the Mahoning Valley today:

At its first in-person meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, City Council on Wednesday gave approval for the Youngstown Police Department to move forward with plans for officers to have body cameras.

City Council also approved $24,300 in overtime for employees in the Youngstown City Health District for work performed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reporter Ellen Wagner has the details.

Pandemic facts

  • In the U.S.: 34,665,781 confirmed cases; 611,763 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine at 8 p.m. July 28.
  • In Ohio: 1,125,420 confirmed or suspected cases; 20,490 deaths.
  • In Pennsylvania: 1,222,302 confirmed cases; 27,838 deaths.
  • In the Mahoning Valley: 22,738 confirmed or suspected cases in Mahoning County; 16,829 in Trumbull; and 9,216 in Columbiana.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Closed at 34,930.93, down 127.59 points, or 0.36%.

Other matters

When asked about obstacles to choice in their community during a conversation about women's health Wednesday night, Mahoning Valley participants talked extensively about access. Mahoning Matters

The Campbell branch of the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County will be closed from mid-August to early September. Mahoning Matters

OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children's Center for Science & Technology in downtown Youngstown will offer free admission to grandparents on the last Thursday of the month — including today — thanks to a donation from Briarfield Health Care Centers. The Business Journal [May require registration.]

Fifth Avenue in Youngstown is open to vehicular traffic, but the improvement project there isn’t finished. The work to the actual road is done. What’s unfinished is the installation of about 30 metal traffic poles to hold up traffic signals as well as landscaping plants and benches. The Vindicator [May encounter paywall.] 

Trumbull County Child Support Enforcement Agency has announced an amnesty program for parents who are struggling with issues related to child support. WFMJ

An assistant Boardman fire chief is enjoying retirement after working his last shift. Don Kloes spent 30 years with the Boardman Fire Department. WKBN

In case you missed it

Outstanding student debt is the No. 1 thing holding Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation clients back from owning their own home, Housing Director Tiffany Sokol said. But now, recent changes to federal loan requirements mean debt-saddled buyers have a bit more buying power. Mahoning Matters

Event of the day

Classic rockers Styx and Donnie Iris & The Cruisers will perform at 7:30 p.m. at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, 201 S. Phelps St., Youngstown. Tickets, ranging in price from $29.50 to $75, can be purchased at and the Southwoods Health Box Office inside Covelli Centre.

To see what else is going on around the Mahoning Valley, check out Mahoning Matters’ event calendar here, or click the Events tab on the top menu at

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Jess Hardin

About the Author: Jess Hardin

Jess Hardin is a reporter for Mahoning Matters. She grew up in Pittsburgh and last worked at The Vindicator. Jess graduated from Georgetown University.
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